Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame

...now browsing by tag

 
 

Great players spur Hastings Loesch’s Bar to championship run in the 1960s

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Loesch’s Bar of Hastings, Minnesota won two state championships during the 1960s, along with numerous tournaments. Team members holding the tournament trophies they won are from left, Jim Schnieder (deceased), Walt Nelson ( deceased), Clayt McNamara, Dave Amy ( deceased), Pat Orman, unknown player, Dick Bacon, Curt Thalburg, Don Amy, Gene Hageman, Larry McNamara, Dave Bacon and Tom Niederkorn. Bat boys, Kirk Van Guilder, left, and Tom Schneider. Missing are manager Red Van Guilder (deceased) and Tom Swanson. Photo Courtesy of Steve Nelson.

HASTINGS, Minn. – It takes talent to make a fastpitch team great, and back in the 1960s Hastings was brimming with it.

Located 25 miles southeast of the Twin Cities, small town Hastings (pop. 8,000 in 1960) produced outstanding players such as twins Don and Dave Amy; brothers Jack and Tom Swanson, Curt Thalberg, Gary Kordosky, Larry McNamara, Gene Hageman, Tom Niederkorn and Walt Nelson.

They put Hastings on the ‘fastpitch’ map by winning big games and big tournaments throughout the state.

But the biggest prize was winning the Amateur Softball Association state tournament. And in 1961, 1964 and 1965, Hastings teams brought home the championship trophy, along with finishing runner-up twice, 1962 and 1966.

However, one Hastings team stood out: Loesch’s Bar which won the 1964 and 1965 titles and finished runner-up in 1966.

    NELSON MANS THE RUBBER

As the team’s catcher, Gene Hageman marveled how good the team was – from its solid hitting, 1-through-9 lineup, to its defense and pitching. Though each player filled a vital role, Walt Nelson – the ace of the pitching staff – was the integral cog that made winning championships possible.

“Walt had grit,” said Hageman. “No one was going to beat him. I would set the glove and he would hit it. His best pitch was his drop ball. In some tournaments, we played up to seven games and Walt would pitch most of them. He could throw all day.”

Click to continue reading “Great players spur Hastings Loesch’s Bar to championship run in the 1960s”

A Step Back In Time: Scandia honors local Fastpitch Hall of Famer Wayne Erickson

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

SOFTBALL CHAMPS – Scandia, Minn. defeated River Falls, Wisc. 8-6, in nine innings Sunday night, July 24, 1967, at Eau Claire’s Carson Park to win the first Open Softball Tournament. Members of the championship team were front row, left to right: Choc Junker, Tom Thompson, Barney Barnholdt, Jim Lindberg, Wayne Erickson and Joe Junker. Back row, George Lindgren, Dean Carlson, Dennis Lofboom, Greg Benson, Phil Anderson, Manager Don Seguin, and Dan Jacobson. Staff Photo / Eau Claire Leader

SCANDIA, Minn. – For the thousands of batters who faced Wayne Erickson, it was most-often a frustrating and fruitless endeavor. But his teammates? They loved him. After all Erickson was a huge factor in helping Scandia win four state men’s fastpitch championships.

And for Erickson’s great exploits for Scandia fastpitch, the city renamed its softball field (simply called “Scandia lighted ball field”) to Wayne Erickson Memorial Ball Park, in 2011.

Erickson is the only Minnesota Sports Federation Softball Hall of Fame (1984) member to come from Scandia.

In his youth, Erickson played baseball, but at age 16 he began pitching fastpitch for Scandia, and continued throwing for his hometown team for the next twenty years.

FOUR TIMES CHAMPS

Those attending the dedication remembered Wayne for his perfection of the art of pitching that helped take the Scandia team to four ASA Class A state championships in 1963, 1966, 1967 and 1968.

“I’m one of four ball players from Scandia that got to play with and against Wayne Erickson in his prime,” Doniver Ahlm said. “Before playing with Wayne I played against him. I had the opportunity to strike out against every type of pitch he threw.”

Click to continue reading “A Step Back In Time: Scandia honors local Fastpitch Hall of Famer Wayne Erickson”

Bob Thurmes Relives Memories of Loesch’s Bar and Its Roster of Fastpitch Stars

Friday, January 6th, 2017

BOB THURMES circa 1970s when Thurmes played for The King and His Court that featured fabled pitcher Eddie Feigner, who barnstomed throughout the world for 55 years, before he died Feb. 9, 2007. Thurmes played for the four-man team in 1971 and again 1974-’75. Bob Thurmes / Courtesy Photo

HASTINGS, Minn. – Bob Thurmes’ fastpitch travels have taken him far during a career that started as a teenager in the early 1960s and lasted until 1980. He played for such legendary teams as the Clearwater, Florida, Bombers – 10-time Amateur Softball Association national champions.

And he played for the fabled King and His Court, one of the great barnstorming softball teams that featured the incomparable pitcher Eddie Feigner, who much like the Harlam Globetrotters thrilled fans with his skill and showmanship that included pitching behind his back, through his legs and even blindfolded.

No doubt, Thurmes once pitched and played for some great fastpitch teams.

But Thurmes, who grew up in Hastings, also pitched for Loesch’s Bar, the hometown team that won two Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Class A state championships in 1964 and ’65, along with second, third and fourth place finishes during the ball club’s reign from the early 1960s into the 1970s, when the team disbanded.

NELSON AND LOESCH’S PUT HASTINGS ON FASTPITCH MAP

Loesch’s featured primarily local talent. However, the team came into prominence when talented pitcher, Walt Nelson, moved to Hastings from Ohio in 1962.

Nelson’s prowess soon made an impact in the Minnesota state fastpitch tournament.

The powerful right-hander led the Hastings American Legion to runner-up in the 1962 state tournament, and in 1964 and 1965, he hurled Loesch’s Bar to back-to-back titles. Thurmes got a close-up look at Nelson in his formative years.

“Walt Nelson was one of my fastpitch heroes,” said Thurmes. “I grew up across the street from Wilson Park and I would watch Loesch’s Bar play for years and beat the best teams from the Twin Cities (such as) Whitaker Buick and Al DeWall, 7-Up, and Peter’s Meats from Eau Claire.”

Thurmes briefly teamed-up with Nelson to form one of the stronger pitching staffs in the state: a young, up-and-coming star, along with a proven veteran in his prime.

STAR STUDDED ROSTER

“I was a senior in high school when they took a look at me,” Thurmes said. “I was young and the first tournament I pitched for them in was in Rochester. Walt and I were the pitchers and in my first game, I went up against last year’s champs and we won 2-1 in 15 innings. The Amy brothers (Don and Dave) had at least six double plays. They were really great players.”

Thurmes also got the nod when Loesch’s had to face Mankato, rated in the top-three of Minnesota elite teams with Dale Root in the circle, one of the up and coming young pitchers in the Midwest.

“(The manager) asked Walt about me pitching and Walt said, ‘let the kid pitch,’” Thurmes said. “I went five innings and it was 0-0, but Root hit a two-run home run off me.”

Thurmes says Loesch’s was loaded with talented ball players back in the 1960s, including the likes catcher Kurt Johnson, Don and Dave Amy, Kurt Thalburg, Jim Beattie, Pat Orman, Larry McNamara, Gene Hageman, Tom Swanson and Tom Niederkorn.

“Niederkorn was a great player and ended up with Whitaker Buick,” Thurmes said, “and Swanson, a shortstop, was one of the best.”

For the Olson’s and Duluth, a thriving time of men’s fastpitch

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

1988 ASA NATIONAL CHAMPION DULUTH STEWART TAYLOR PRINTING. Top from left: Dick Olson Manager, Jim Olson, Randy Hill, Mike Thomas, Brian Langeland, Corey Thomas, Paul Friesen, Brad Emanuel and Tom Olson. Bottom from left: Jerry Strange, Mike Morrissey, Bill Olson, Clay Kerr and Casey Frank. Team helper Mitch. Courtesy Photo

DULUTH, Minn. – Once upon a time a man could stand in the center of Minnesota and point to the east, west, north or south and as surely as the sun rises and sets, men’s fastpitch was being played in most cities and small towns of the state’s 87 counties.

That was the thriving times of the 1960s to 1980s.

Owatonna, St Paul, Minneapolis and Mankato? Booming. Winona and Rochester? Hot beds.

Scandia, Hastings, Red Wing, Lake Crystal, Wanamingo, St. James and Geneva? Teeming with teams, leagues and tournaments.

And up in the northern reaches of the state snuggled up to the western shore of Lake Superior, the game in Duluth was at its peak. That was back when Bill Olson started playing in 1973, barely a teenager.

“I started at 13 at Ordean Jr. High School,” said Olson, 56. “That was when they had fastpitch in the junior high schools. There were a lot of good teams in my era.”

Click to continue reading “For the Olson’s and Duluth, a thriving time of men’s fastpitch”

Marlin Boom’s passion and dedication earns passage into the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

BOOM FASTPITCH FAMILY: Marlin Boom, center, surrounded by his family, was inducted into the Minnesota Sports Federation Softball Hall of Fame on Oct. 29, 2016. Courtesy Photo.

ELLSWORTH, Minn. – Fastpitch success has embraced brothers Chad and B.J. Boom in bountiful ways. They’ve played throughout the United States and traveled to foreign lands playing the game they love.

Chad was selected All-World three-times in the ISC World Tournament. And in 2015, B.J. was inducted into the North American Fastpich Association Hall of Fame. It doesn’t get much better than that.

But if you ask the brothers how this was all possible, they would answer in one word: “Dad”

Dad would be Marlin Boom, whose passion for fastpitch matches anyone who ever stepped on a softball field.

And he passed that passion on to his sons.

“I can remember as a little boy Dad hitting me and Chad thousands of fly balls and grounders at Ellsworth ballpark,” said B.J., now 38 who started playing at 7. “I can remember all the time and effort he put in to being as good a player as he was. He was a visual example for me.”

Click to continue reading “Marlin Boom’s passion and dedication earns passage into the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame”

Ultimate competitor Dan Nessler twice a Hall of Famer

Sunday, December 11th, 2016
DAN NESSLER of Happy Chef covers second base during the 1995 ISC World Tournament in which Happy Chef finished fifth. Nessler was selected an All-World player four times and was inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame in 2009. Photo By BOB OTTO

DAN NESSLER of Happy Chef covers second base during the 1995 ISC World Tournament in which Happy Chef finished fifth. Nessler was selected an All-World player four times and was inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame in 2009. Photo By BOB OTTO

MANKATO, Minn. – With a grunt and a leap, the pitcher hurls the softball from 46 feet, causing the violently spinning missile to jump or plunge a foot just before crossing home plate and slamming into the catcher’s mitt at 85 miles per hour.

The degree of difficulty of hitting such a frustratingly elusive projectile?

Nearly impossible for batsmen of modest ability. But for the very best, an improbability they handle with great aplomb.

Mark Sorenson was one of the best, as was Bill Boyer, Shawn Rychcik and Colin Abbott. This esteemed class also includes Dan Nessler of Mankato, Minnesota.

Nessler was a magician with the bat from the left-side batters box. He played small-ball as well as anyone, said pitcher Pete Sandman, a teammate with Nessler on the world championship Penn Corp teams of Sioux City, Iowa.

“Dan was a great hitter,” said Sandman, who pitched for Penn Corp and later National Health Care Discount (NHCD) from 1981 to 1991. “He was smart, could slap, drag bunt, hit balls to left, center or right. He was gifted with the bat.”

    ACCLAIMED PLAYER AND LEADER

With the likes of Sandman, Nessler, Sorenson and Boyer leading a stable of stars, Penn Corp / NHCD won four (1988, ’89, ’91, ’92) International Softball Congress World Tournament championships. During that reign, Nessler made ISC All-World twice.

Interspersed in those Penn Corp years, Nessler also played for Happy Chef of Mankato, helping the team finish fifth in the 1995 ISC World Tournament, and claiming the ASA Class A National Championship the same year.

During the Happy Chef years, Nessler earned two ISC All-World honors (1985, 1992), along with being selected ASA Second-Team, All-American.

Nessler took over as player / manager in 1992. A post he held for 10 years. He was a leader and an example to the younger players, said former infielder Scott Christensen, a three-time ISC All-World player with Happy Chef.

“He was always thinking about game situations and our strengths and what the other team might do,” said Christensen. “He was a very intelligent player who could anticipate and be in the right place to make a play. You can’t teach that. He could adapt (at bat) and bunt or hit the other way.”

DAN NESSLER played in 16 ISC World Tournaments. In the four world tournaments in which he was selected All-World, he batted .407 with 15 runs and nine RBI. Photo By BOB OTTO / 1995 ISC World Tournament

DAN NESSLER played in 16 ISC World Tournaments. In the four world tournaments in which he was selected All-World, he batted .407 with 15 runs and nine RBI. Photo By BOB OTTO / 1995 ISC World Tournament

Click to continue reading “Ultimate competitor Dan Nessler twice a Hall of Famer”

Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame missing some great players

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Jolstad.Leroy.3web The great LeRoy Jolstad was inducted into the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame in 2008.

YUCAIPA, Calif. – I searched three times and still couldn’t find Walt “Nellie” Nelson’s name anywhere on the hallowed list.

A list that includes some of the greatest men’s players and contributors in the history of Minnesota men’s fastpitch softball.

The Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame.

The 2014 Hall of Fame induction takes place Nov. 1 at the Rochester International Event Center.

But Walt “Nellie” Nelson’s accomplishments in the pitching circle won’t be recognized at the event. To me, that’s a shame.

Click to continue reading “Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame missing some great players”

Minnesota loses fastpitch legend Leroy Jolstad

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Jolstad.Leroy.5web
Leroy Jolstad shown in a mid-1990s photo, was one of Minnesota’s greatest fastpitch softball pitchers, spanning a career that lasted five decades. Jolstad passed away on Sunday, Aug. 25 at the age of 64. Happy Chef media guide contributed photo

MARSHALL, MINN – Minnesota has a celebrated history of producing great men’s fastpitch softball pitchers. There’s Al DeWall and Dutch Elbers; Johnny Vollmer and Dale Root; Ron “BoBo” Johnson and Don Olson.

But perhaps the greatest of all was Leroy Jolstad.

Jolstad stood tall on the rubber, an imposing figure at 6-foot-5. He threw hard and his explosive drop ball – his signature pitch – was among the best in the sport.

“Leroy never had a great change up or even a great rise ball,” said Dan Nessler, a teammate of Jolstad’s on Mankato Happy Chef for several years in the 1980s and ‘90s. “He did however have a great drop ball and could spot it where he wanted. People knew what they were getting most of the time and he still got them out. I didn’t see all of (Minnesota’s best pitchers) throw, but from what I saw, Leroy is at the top of the list locally.”

Click to continue reading “Minnesota loses fastpitch legend Leroy Jolstad”

Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame to induct 15 of state’s greatest contributors

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — The 27th Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame Banquet will be held on Saturday evening, November 3 at the River’s Edge Convention Center (St. Cloud Civic Center) in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The Hall of Fame biennually recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the sport of softball.

Softball is the largest team participant sport in Minnesota and the nation with over 6,000 teams participating in the local program.

A total of 15 individuals in the player, manager, umpire, sponsor, promoter, administrator, organizer, volunteer or media categories have been selected for induction this year. Included are:

    Inductee Category Softball Hometown
    Anna Anderson, Player, Minneapolis/St. Paul
    Gene Bartz, Player, Edina/Richfield/Minnetonka
    Paula Bergren*, Volunteer/Organizer/Promoter, Duluth
    Dianne Dingman, Player, Anoka
    Paul Harrington, Volunteer/Organizer/Promoter, Farmington
    Bud Heidgerken, Volunteer/Organizer/Promoter, Freeport
    Dick Hudson*, Player, New Ulm
    Dennis Johnson, Volunteer/Organizer/Promoter, St. James
    Dennis Karp*, Volunteer/Organizer/Promoter/Umpire, Carlton County
    Ed Kingsley*, Volunteer/Organizer/Promoter, Princeton
    Denny Malarkey, Player, Roseville
    Bonnie Muzik, Administrator, Brainerd
    Barb Northway, Administrator, Minnesota
    Barb Olson, Player, Duluth/Proctor
    Mark Rieber, Umpire, Mankato
    Robert “Sam” Werner, Player, Minneapolis

    * = Inducted posthumously

2010’s banquet was attended by over 300 people and an equal or greater number is expected this year.

The cost of the banquet is $40.00. Tickets may be obtained using the Ticket Request Form or they may be ordered online. Deadline for tickets is Friday, October 26.

Nearby Hotels
Le St. Germain Suite Hotel
Best Western Plus/Kelly Inn

For further information please contact:

Tami Morrison
763/263-9993
tami@msf1.org

Ball family supports Dad’s goal in West St. Paul Tournament

Friday, July 27th, 2012

“Wayne’s tournament is great. It’s the best. He knows how to run a tournament fantastically.” – Dave Vandenbosch, manager, Gallagher’s Bar

WEST ST. PAUL, MN – Forty-two down and eight to go.

For 42 years, 73-year-old Wayne Ball has kept the West St. Paul Invitational Men’s Fastpitch Tournament rolling along. Year-after-year without a miss.

Though he’s at an age when most fastpitch folks have long since retired, Ball has no plans on deserting his baby. His creation. His passion. Besides, he’s set a goal that he’s determined to meet.

“I have to go at least eight more years,” he said. “I’ve got to get to 50 years.”

Click to continue reading “Ball family supports Dad’s goal in West St. Paul Tournament”